Sea Sports Belize launched Wildlife Encounters in the 1990s and while others have copied, none can compare. These tours explore the diverse coastal marine life including the endangered Antillean manatee, Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, crocodiles and iguanas and the coral reefs of Belize. These trips for great for the entire family! We can tailor the Wildlife Encounters to suit your group, please see below options available, duration and cost.
Manatees, Majestic Mangroves & Jungle River
Just outside Belize City exists a magical place, little known by many. Imagine tall mangroves climbing to the sky, their prop roots reaching for the earth and a myriad of wildlife camouflaged by the lush vegetation. Your journey begins in the heart of Belize City on Haulover Creek. The first mile or so traverses the riverside area in Belize where you can get a glimpse of Belize City River life. If you've never seen a town by the waterside, it is a great way to get a true glimpse of how people live. Soon enough the number of houses decrease and the red mangroves begin to appear. Then we enter the tunnel, where the red mangroves grow 5 stories high and their branches meet overhead providing a natural canopy for shade. The sunlight trickles through the leaves providing enough light to admire nature's beauty in these old mangrove trees. Reaching down are mangrove prop roots that resemble rope-like hair as the mangroves grow outward. Wildlife is also observed in the Tunnel including kingfisher's, egrets and great blue herons. More rare sightings include mammals like the quash and the national animal of Belize, the tapir!
The journey through the Mangrove Tunnel lasts about 45 minutes after which you end up coming out onto the Belize River near Haulover Bridge. The mouth of the Belize River supports the endangered West Indian manatee which is often found congregating here where they drink the fresh river water. We will spend some time here looking for this endangered marine mammal in one of its last strongholds. This is truly an endanger species as the increased boat traffic through this area kills record numbers of manatee each year. You'll learn that one of the best ways to protect the endangered manatee is to "GO SLOW" and you'll see so much more!
Full Blown Wildlife Encounters
Our "Full Blown" Wildlife Encounter Tour includes touring the Belize River, the coastal waterways and snorkeling on the Belize Barrier Reef looking for wildlife above and below the sea. We begin with a cruise up the historic Belize River that was the main highway in Belize until the turn of the century when using roads became more efficient for transporting goods. Great steamships used to run up and down the Belize River between Cayo, or San Ignacio as it is known today, Belize's westernmost town that borders Guatemala, and Belize City. Settlements along the river are much less common but evidence of the numerous mango farms that line the river banks and the occasional breadfruit tree indicate the previous importance in the development of Belize. Before the steamships were in use, the Maya similarly used the Belize River as a key transportation route between their inland cities and coastal settlements. In celebration of the Belize River and its importance to the history of Belize an annual 4 day canoe race takes place each year. For more details please see our page on La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge.
Mammals that are found in the Belize River include manatees, dolphins, howler monkeys and the national animal, the tapir. The West Indian Manatee can often be seen at the mouth of the Belize River and howler monkeys high in the treetops. Our Full Blown Wildlife Encounters have twice spotted the national animal crossing the river! Many different species of reptiles can be observed along the jungle river. The American crocodile is often observed "sunning" along the river bank. They are shy around visitors and will often escape underwater. The Central American river turtle is occasionally observed resting on logs along the river bank. These reptiles are similarly shy and will retreat to the safety of the river in an instant. Green iguanas are vegetarians that are observed resting on the branches of the tallest trees. They can reach 5 feet in length from snout to tail tip and vary in color from green to orange. Exotic bird species include the keel-billed toucan, great blue and tiger herons, jabiru and wood storks, roseate spoonsbills, kingfishers, egrets and many more. Exotic plants and trees encountered include the royal and cohune palms, and logwood, which was used in the 1800s as die for clothing. The mangrove communities found along the coast and offshore islands are the nursery grounds for our commercial fishery species. Lobster, fish, and shrimp use the prop roots of the red mangrove for shelter and also as a feeding ground. Coral reefs are amazing and so full of life. Looking at them from the boat you would never imagine the amount of activity and beauty that awaits your under the sea exploration. This portion of the trip is an abbreviated version of our Barrier Reef Snorkeling trip.